Let’s be honest here. That would have been the headline if this had happened prior to January 20 of this year, right? Of course, in reality, the United States authorized airstrikes on Iranian-backed insurgents on both sides of the border between Syria and Iraq. Again. The militants had once again been flying drones into areas where American and allied troops are stationed. We apparently had solid enough intelligence to identify where the Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia groups (which are really just regiments of the Iranian Republican Guard in different uniforms) were gathering and storing their munitions to confidently take some of them out. Given the recent elections in Iran and the further collapse of the nuclear deal talks, this should send an interesting message to Ebrahim Raisi. (NY Post)
The US launched airstrikes against Iran-backed militants in Syria and Iraq on Sunday in response to drone attacks against American troops and facilities in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
President Biden ordered attacks on two targets in Syria and one in Iraq near the border with the two countries, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
“As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel,” Kirby said.
It’s estimated that there have been 45 attacks by Iranian insurgents on American troops since Joe Biden took office, with almost a dozen of them involving drones. And we’re not talking about the cheap, rotor-driven drones you can order from Amazon. These are fixed-wing combat drones driven by rockets and capable of being packed with explosives that detonate on impact. It’s still rather low-tech compared to the drones used by America, Russia or China, but they can be both effective and deadly. ISIS still lacks such capabilities for the most part, so this hardware is clearly coming from Iran.
The Department of Defense released a statement shortly after the airstrikes were announced. They described the strikes as being “both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope.”
If anyone was expecting to read this article and see me bashing President Joe Biden over this decision you are in for a disappointment. I will confess that I’ve been watching this developing situation with some concerns over how Biden would react. He seems desperate to restart the Iran nuclear deal negotiations (because the Bad Orange Man ended them), and I worried that he might be willing to give away the ranch just to be able to show some progress.
The election of Islamist hardliner Ebrahim Raisi complicated matters further. He came into office vowing that he would be the one to scrap the deal and further inhibit IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites unless nearly all sanctions on Iran were lifted without Raisi having to offer a single thing first. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the Iranian Republican Guard saw this shift in domestic politics as a chance to test Joe Biden by throwing some explosive drones at us. If Biden failed to act and continued to push for more talks, they would definitely feel like they had the upper hand.
With all that in mind, I’ll offer a tip of my hat to the President and, as always, to our military for sending a strong, but appropriately restrained message. Until such time as we can get all of our troops out of Iraq and Syria (assuming such a time ever arrives), we will need to continue beating back and taking out the terrorists who continue to seek to attack Americans and our allies in the region.